Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Horrendous - Anareta

HORRENDOUS - Anareta (DARK DESCENT Records LP 2015)
Finally I gave this album a goodcareful listen. It's been two years, since "Anaretarelease!! Long time already, I know, but it took me a while before I purchased a copy of the vinyl and even more time to play it. Forgive me this delay, but there were two reasons for it. First was the amount of music that I buy every month and want to listen to. Second was the fact that Horrendous' second album "Ecdysis" was a hard game for me. I didn’t like it so much after first couple of spins, I was definitely disappointed when I've heard how the band progressed, comparing their second album to more traditional "Sweet Blasphemies" demo or the truly old school "The Chills" record. But after a while it turned out that "Ecdysis" is a "grower" kind of album and it gets better and better with every listen. So it opened the door also for "Anareta". And here it finally is, nice piece of black wax straight from the catacombs of Dark Descent Records. 
And yeah, definitely "Anareta" is a natural follower to "Ecdysis", so this time it doesn't surprise as much, as the previous record did. There's everything on "Anareta" what characterized and was so fascinating about "Ecdysis" - progressive death metal, with strong melodic base, a lot of technical, Death-esque or Atheist-esque passages, some quite weird arrangements and sometimes almost heavy metal influences. But the thing is that the way Horrendous plays their music and how they arrange and structure songs, gives them a very original sound. Honestly they're one of the very few newer death metal bands, which you can say that managed to create their own, unique style within the genre. You can recognize them immediately and that's really an exceptional thing, in my opinion. 
I have to say that "Anareta" is damn good album. I truly like many ideas or riffs the band came up with, even if sometimes it's not necessarily stuff, which I normally would like. But damn, the way they play this progressive death metal is amazing! Take for example this extremely good instrumental song "Siderea" and check all these fantastic melodies, leads and all other stuff they play in it! Wow, it doesn't even sound like old school death metal really, but it's really damn good anywayWhen Horrendous comes with these memorable harmonies it can be felt that they have a strong Swedish / Gothenburg influence (early At the Gates for instance), but the music has more unique character. You'll be able to catch these melodic bits in basically every song, but I like the fact that their music, even if is so progressive, can still sound aggressive and damn harsh, sometimes almost brutal. And it's damn powerful! The production is top notch, it definitely is one of the best things about this album. And these harsh, kind of Schuldiner / Mammeli like rough screams of Damian Herring are also one of these aspects, which I like about Horrendous so much. Also the guitar work is exceptional. But does thunderous bass and intense drumming leave anything more to wish? No, they're almost perfectly executed, in my opinion. 
In songs like "The Nihilist", "Ozymandias" or "Stillborn Gods" the band is doing better than ever before and considering their young age, I am simply amazed how fresh and great it all sounds. Definitely Horrendous is one of the most creative bands around these days, especially when compared to bands, which only re-play the old formulas and riffs. I have nothing against these bands, love many of them truly, but it's just great to hear that someone decided to refresh the murky and musty old catacombs of death metal. Especially when we hear such a good effect as "Anareta". I don’t know if this album will speak to every death metal fan or not. Maybe some will not like its progressive and technical inclinations, other may dislike the melodic side of itArgghhhh, there will be always some people, who will moan or say it's another hipster band from trendy label. I am not bothered. As much as I was sceptical before for this development of Horrendous music, it managed to defend itself and with time it proved its great worth. Now it sounds like pure fuckin jewel, difficult to be fully appreciated at first sight, but which with time becomes more and more fascinating. 
Standout tracks: "The Solipsist (Mirrors Gaze)", "The Nihilist", "Ozymandias", "Stillborn Gods"  
Final rate: 85/100

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Hatespawn / Charon - Mass Celebration for the Seven Blood-Bounding Rituals of Misery, Death and Abomination

HATESPAWN / CHARON - Mass Celebration for the Seven Blood-Bounding Rituals of Misery, Death and Abomination (SEPULCHRAL VOICE split 7"EP 2011)
Damn, this split 7"EP was waiting two years I think, until I finally played it haha! Shame, but shit happens sometimes. I bought it because I wanted to check these two bands. I knew them by the names, but never had a chance to hear any of their recordings. This was a good opportunity to finally check them out. The split 7" titled "Mass Celebration for the Seven Blood-Bounding Rituals of Misery, Death and Abomination" is a blasphemous onslaught of two German death metal legions that go under the names Hatespawn and Charon. 
So, when Hatespawn's "The Invocated Awakening" started I knew right away that this is my sort of shit. This band performs very obscure, harsh and evil sounding death metal done the old school, primeval way, which is just pure feast for my ears. It may sound too primitive or raw for some, but not for me. Hatespawn evokes great dark atmosphere, their riffs are really fantastic, with a strong old school, almost slightly thrashy feeling, great abominations of the vocalist A. Deathmonger... and finally a suitable production, which I am surprised is quite clean, yet vicious and harsh. The way "The Invocated Awakening" has been composed and performed leaves do doubts that we deal with exceptional band and I am just disappointed that I have not heard anything else from Hatespawn yet. I buy so many records every month and not even once I had obtained their stuff. I'm about to change that! 
A. Deathmonger is also a vocalist in Charon, so both projects are connected in many ways. Their anthem "Spell & Revelation" is also truly fuckin killer! Musically I can hear there more black metal influences, with its viciousness and obscure, blasphemous feeling combined with death metal aggression. The music has quite ritualistic aura, it's also slightly more chaotic and definitely faster. But again I am very impressed and I cannot believe that my knowledge about Charon is so small. They have a full length titled "Sulphur Seraph (The Archon Principle)" released and I already purchased a CD copy of it! 
This split 7" was Sepulchral Voice's only third release, but what a fine and impressive single it is. I love the packaging, the whole layout and artwork... I love the music of both bands (Hatespawn's my favourite!) and everything else. Absolutely recommended.  
Final rate: 90 / 100 

Au-Dessus - End of Chapter

AU-DESSUS - End of Chapter (Les Acteurs de l’ombre Productions CD 2017)
Another great album came from French label Les Acteurs de l’ombre Productions. I have to say that so far most of the stuff, which I have heard from them was excellent. There were maybe two or three releases, which I didn't like at all, but most of the stuff was killer. This label specialized in rather specific genres, for example in the more experimental and progressive (post) black metal, so it's not necessarily thing for everyone, especially not for more orthodox listeners. But I like such music! This time the label delivered an album from Au-Dessus titled "End of Chapter". And it's been a great pleasure to listen to this CD, I have to say that the music of this Lithuanian band truly grasped my attention and I played it with enormous pleasure. It's one of those experiences, when the music with its feeling and sound will drown you. You will let it devour you fully when the atmosphere is almost hypnotizing. You should play it on headphones, it is the best way to experience it all and then nothing else will matter, but the music. 
I wouldn't call Au-Dessus music black metal, even if it has some blackish influences. That post metal tag may be annoying for some, but you can't help but admit it fits such bands and such albums perfectly. Through its 45 minutes "End of Chapter" takes us for an interesting journey, where the tension will grow with each of the seven parts of the album. From strict musical point of view Au-Dessus delivers a fantastic variety on their full length. You'll find many different styles and sounds here. Obviously that post metal tag means that a lot of riffs are dissonant, creating very specific sludgy atmosphere. Such passages of post metal instrumental parts are always truly intriguing and they never fail to impress me. I have to say that I love their riffs. A lot of the guitar parts are fantastic, whether they're more melodic or progressive or when the band slashes through with razor sharp riffage. They create great atmosphere and with that variety like for example in song "VI" I am sure you will find it also as truly special. 
The band takes a lot effort to make sure though that the balance between that progressive and slow paced part of their music and more aggressive and ferocious one is done the right way. So, if you want to hear more black metal parts then I believe that "End of Chapter" should not disappoint you. Almost every song has to offer a blasting and aggressive, insanely vicious and pissed off fragments, which should satisfy your hunger. Mantas' vocals sound like possessed then, he screams like maniac, bringing even more ferocity to the sound of Au-DessusOccasionally he also uses some clean vocals, but mainly he uses sort of hardcore'ish screams, which to my surprise doesn't disturb me at all. I am actually really blown away how well such genres as sludge and post metal can merge with black metal elements and create such a monster of an album like "End of Chapter". Genres, which normally I don't listen to so much, when played in more extreme and vicious, darker way turn into such jewel... Fantastic thing and so fuckin well done Au-Dessus! Song called "VIII" is definitely the best one, I think, it sound insanely well but is also a fine representative for the whole album. Check it out! "X" is also one of these special songs for me, it's more progressive and filled with some beautiful passages; absolutely masterpiece. 
Summing it all up then, "End of Chapter" is very good album. I had not much expectations for it, maybe because Au-Dessus are Lithuanian and to be honest, this country isn't a place that would have a great and worthy scene. But the result is very good. Poland may have their own great acts like Thaw or Outre, but Lithuania has Au-Dessus and they should be proud for that! I also like such Inquisitor and Dissimulation, Crypts of Despair is also damn good... so, it looks like Lithuanian scene is going stronger! 
Standout tracks: "VI", "VIII", "X" 
Final rate: 80/100